AU helped me ‘stand on shoulder of giants’ in online education
Transforming Lives: Learners of AU is an ongoing series where real students and alumni share how AU’s flexible online learning model made a difference in their lives and communities. Submit your story.
I have been working full-time as an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher at a public high school in Tokyo for more than 2 decades.
I joined the Doctor of Education in Distance Education (EdD) program at Athabasca University to explore the possibility of online/blended learning, the true value of which is still unknown in Japan or in many parts of the world. I completed the program this year.
My dissertation, Developing higher-order thinking through asynchronous forums in blended learning design, was an action research project. I created and implemented an intervention at my workplace as a possible solution to mitigate a problem that I identified on the ground: lack of learning activities to think in EFL classes due to dominant test-oriented practices.
“I joined the doctoral program at Athabasca University to explore the possibility of online/blended learning, the true value of which is still unknown in Japan or in many parts of the world.”– Dr. Hiroshi Miyashita (Doctor of Education in Distance Education '22)
Finding leadership at AU
After completing the project, I found that the higher-order thinking of kindergarten to Grade 12 students can be developed in asynchronous forums embedded in purposefully designed programs.
I value highly the collective leadership and endeavours exercised by Athabasca University, without which I might never have had the opportunity to engage in my studies while also fulfilling the responsibilities of employment and family.
Of course, completing my degree was not easy—at all—but the quality of the program, professors, and cohort members (dearest friends!) all supported me to go forward.
Thankful to supervisor, proud of program cohort
I extend my deepest gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Debra Hoven, for her enduring encouragement and mentorship to make my project more meaningful. I also thankfully acknowledge my committee members and examiners for their professional feedback and guidance to make my draft stronger.
I am so proud of being a member of cohort 11 of the EdD program, which I believe embodies an ideal model of an online learning community. We all have been supportive and resilient, while each of us worked separately and independently from all over the world.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still encountering online learning programs that seem to be little more than a direct translation of traditional correspondence courses or traditional face-to-face classes on lecture formats.
AU a leader in quality online learning
In contrast, mainstream online learning has developed in the past few decades as a new method to replace the concept of knowledge transmission with knowledge construction. This shift rests on the belief that collaborative constructivist learning approaches can provide learners with meaningful educational experiences. The EdD program at AU definitely plays a leading role in further exploring and disseminating quality online learning.
“I now feel that I am standing on the shoulders of giants … I would like to humbly take the baton, heartily appreciating what they have achieved.”
I now feel that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. Pioneers in the field of online learning desperately tried to introduce technology into education to transform the system, bring about more meaningful educational experiences, and then create a healthier society. I would like to humbly take the baton, heartily appreciating what they have achieved.
Privately, I could not have completed the EdD program without the tremendous support and patience of my wife. My son, who was still 1 year old when I embarked on this doctoral journey, is an endless source of joy and inspiration for my work and in my life.
Transforming Lives: Learners of AU
Read more profiles of AU students and grads in our series Transforming Lives: Learners of AU.